In recent years the number of people experiencing homelessness has grown rapidly in many American cities, raising new questions about who public space is designed for. As more and more Bay Area residents find themselves without homes, many have defaulted to living in public spaces such as parks, plazas and squares. These spaces were not designed to be homes, however, and housed users voice concerns that the presence of unhoused residents degrades public spaces, rendering them unwelcoming or even unsafe.
At the same time, people who do not have access to stable housing are members of the community and should not be denied the use of public space simply because of their living situation. As long as our cities do not provide housing for all who need it, our neighborhoods will continue to face the challenge of how housed and unhoused users can coexist in public space.
This report introduces the toolkit, which can be downloaded at spur.org/coexistence, and offers considerations for community discussion.